Golf to Armchair Rules Officials: Don't Call Us

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From January 1st, 2018, the tour bodies have chose to assign officials to monitor video broadcasts of a tournament to help identify and resolve rules issues as they arise; and to discontinue any steps to "facilitate or consider viewer call-ins" as any part of the rules decision process.

Golf officials will no longer consider rules violations pointed out by fans watching tournaments on television.

The group - which includes the PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA tour and PGA of America - also voted to stop considering viewer call-ins when processing potential rule violations.

This practice of television viewers calling in to allege rules infringements has been an ongoing issue in the sport, most notably at last year's ANA Inspiration - a Major on the women's circuit - when a two-shot penalty was handed out to Lexi Thompson for failing to replace her ball properly, which was picked up on slow-motion replay. "Let's leave the rules and the administration of the event to the players and to those responsible for running the tournament". She was penalized two shots for the infraction. Upon review, officials agreed with the caller and Thompson was assessed a four stroke penalty. Thompson rallied, but eventually lost to So Yeon Ryu in the first hole of a playoff.

The new protocols will be implemented starting on January 1.

"We have concluded that whilst players should continue to be penalized for all breaches of the Rules during a competition, including any that come to light after the score card is returned, an additional penalty for the score card error is not required".

This rule was extremely hated by players in all of the major golf tournaments as they felt that it was unfair given that not all players receive equal broadcast coverage, therefore making the more visible players far more apt to be slapped with a rules violation.

"The committee [at each tournament] will take on the responsibility of monitoring in real time", said Pagel, according to Golf Digest. After all, it should be rules officials, not fans, determining when a player has violated the rules of golf.

The Telegraph noted that Padraig Harrington, Camilo Villegas and Tiger Woods had all fallen victim to the calls of sharp-eyed viewers who brought up violations that may have gone unnoticed.